Album: Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face
Label: Closed Casket Activities
FFO: Varials, Jesus Piece, Sanction
End is a super group made up of Brendan Murphy, Will Putney, Gregory Thomas, Jay Pepito, and Andrew McEnaney. They unleashed a hellish EP entitled "From The Unforgiving Arms of God" back in 2017, leaving fans who came across this record in a desperate state of needing more. After over 2 years, the new (but well known) faces of hardcore shared with us a single, and eventually their first LP, "Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face". The music these men create surpasses labels such as "hardcore" and "Deathcore". What 'Splinters' brings to the table is that same haunting, visceral, engulfing sound from their EP. Being a producer among many talents, Will was of course behind this unique sound. He could've made this as clear, tightened, and finely tuned as any other band he works with. But no, he almost goes the opposite direction. This sound is muddy, one instrument buried on top of the next with the vocals struggling to make it out alive. It's amazing I can describe a bad sounding record and a good sounding record using the same words. But the thing that separates this sound from your garage-made song with your friends, is Will knows what he's doing. He built these characteristics to his advantage, only further bringing the personality of the record to life.
From front to back, ‘Splinters’ is nothing but a steamroller. ‘Covet Not’ pulls the curtain, immediately showcasing the chaos. There is a good mix of quick one-two punches and regular to longer length songs. With all the feedback and noises going on, it’s very easy to transition between songs. Some songs end abrupt but then the next will creep in. Or there might be a fadeout before the next song bursts through the door. But enough about doors - the speed of these songs is through the roof. The drums take the cake when it comes to putting this train into full speed ahead. It’s hard to keep up at times with what the heck is going on. However, I also appreciate the rare halted moments like towards the end of ‘Covet Not’ when the bass comes in during the breakdown. But I don’t think this would be a proper review without mentioning Brendan’s vocals. I’m not a huge Counterparts fan, but I know enough to be able to say that he is a completely different entity when amongst End. You can certainly contribute some of that to the distorted vocals, but I do not want that to take away from the effort and talent he has put into this. It feels like he is giving absolutely everything he has and then some. That then brings us to these lyrics. Again, I’m no huge fan of Counterparts, but I know enough to tell you this isn’t his normal writing. These lyrics hold as much weight as the music itself, if not more. Lines like “I am no virgin to despair. Swallowing nails in place of pills. I am my fear held in trembling hands” are just a few of many very descriptive and almost uncomfortable lyrics. Lyrics mostly depict death and suffering unlike you’ve ever heard before. It’s these themes that only add to that visceral feeling I mentioned earlier. I can honestly say the writing is some of my favorite of any metal album. Those words, by the way, are from my favorite track ‘Hesitation Wounds’. One of the biggest sounding songs on here right next to the ending track ‘Sands of Sleep’. Tanner’s feature is fantastic and surprisingly fitting. He brings a glimpse of beauty and calm to the mix before going straight back into devastation. I also love the possible connection between “From The Unforgiving Arms of God” and the final words spoken on this album, “No god would want me now.” Or perhaps it simply relates to the other themes within ‘Splinters’. Either way, what a finisher.
This is very much an extension from their EP, with even more force behind it. The lyrics are just as captivating, and the music is just as violently relentless. Being that this is a full LP, it gives it much more room to deliver more sounds and captivating passages. It’s hard to pick out what I loved most about this record, so I have to cop-out with saying the general sound. The fact this is a hardcore sound that manages to stand out and do it’s own thing is an achievement in itself. It’s for that main reason this is so easy to start all over once it ends. I can’t get enough of these guys’ sound.
If there's one thing End is the best at, it's their way with words. Both with titles and lyrics. They send off a tone before you even dive into the monstrous noise. But take away the great production choices and leave the stripped down core of these songs. You still have more energy and rawness than I've ever heard come out of a hardcore record. Add the well seasoned brains behind it, and certain stylistic choices come alive that draw your focus even more within the drowning atmosphere. ‘Splinters From An Ever-Changing Face’ is...cataclysmic, in the best way possible.
Strongest Song: Hesitation Wounds
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/artist/end/1270962898